Friday, October 21, 2016

Is 30 days enough time to stop a Silver Lake demolition?

The newly required city demolition notice

The newly required city demolition notice

SILVER LAKE —  Alarm bells have gone off among some preservation minded residents after a demolition notice was hung from the gate of a 109-year-old Craftsman bungalow on Coronado Street. The notice printed on a blue sheet of paper is part of a new city law that requires neighbors to be given at least 30 days notice before a demolition permit can be issued for older buildings. But if residents want to stop the bulldozers from arriving, what can they do if they have only 30 days?

A tenant at the bright blue-and-white bungalow, which currently houses an architectural salvage firm, said the owners want to build an apartment building on the the approximately 7,500-square-foot lot, which sold last April for about $800,000.  While the three-bedroom home is not a city historic landmark,  it was built more than 45 years ago, which under the new Notification of Demolition ordinance  requires a 30-day notification if the owner plans to obtain a demolition permit. In addition to the notice posted outside, the owners of all adjacent properties must be notified by mail of the proposed demolition, according to the ordinance authored by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell.

“Too many times, I’ve seen buildings demolished before permits for a new project is even approved,” said O’Farrell in a statement when the City Council approved the ordinance last year. “This results in lifeless, empty lots which can create blight in our neighborhoods.”

Silver Lake resident Anne Hars said the bungalow is the sixth house in a two-block block radius to be slated for demolition in the next few months as developers take advantage of the city’s small-lot ordinance to build townhomes. Hars said this property might serve as an ideal test to see if the 30-day waiting period is an effective tool.

“Hopefully this new legislation doesn’t just allow residents to get in touch with their inner helpless citizen before watching the inevitable destruction of their neighborhood,” she said. “The planning department’s unwillingness to follow its own Small Lot Ordinance guidelines coupled with the lack of any real process in issuing demolition permits has made for a perfect storm for destroying this kind of historic treasure.”

With the 30-day demolition clock ticking, Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, the city’s largest historic preservation group, says residents better get organized:

The Notification of Demolition Ordinance is intended to make things more transparent, build awareness, and provide neighbors and interested groups with a “heads up” so they know about the demolition before rather than after it happens. As a 30-day window before the demolition permit is issued, it hopefully can give residents an opportunity to talk and have a conversation and perhaps even consider and negotiate alternatives to demolition. And in some cases, where it involves a historic property, concerned residents can involve their City Council office and press for local landmark, Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM), designation.”

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  1. Tragic. I am not opposed to change nor development, but I am opposed to wiping out history. Buy an empty lot to develop or at the very least, pay to have the house moved. These old craftsman houses are a firm of art and a very important part of LA history. Why build in a historical area if you intend to wipe it out? No comprendo. Thank you, Mitch O ‘Farrell for being a voice of reason.

  2. the “small lot ordinance” is systematically being used to override zoning and alter neighborhoods being recognition. it time to appeal it

    • Yes, you can’t alter any neighborhood.

      All neighborhoods in LA must stay exactly as they are and never change! Forever!

      • Spoken like someone who hasn’t been around long enough to appreciate history.. Yes development is good but NO. They shouldn’t wipe out all of Los Angeles’ history.

      • Michael Livingston

        Dave: not everybody wants to live in some faceless, characterless tract housing in Orange County. Leave us our neighborhoods and you go live there if that’s what you want.

    • That’s Garcettiis doing!

  3. This property is 30 feet from Sunset Blvd, between an alley and a surface parking lot, across the street from a decrepit commercial building. If ever there were a site appropriate for an apartment building, its this one.

    This building isn’t architecturally significant, this is NIMBYs using the legal system to fight any development of any kind.

    People who genuinely care about historic preservation should distance themselves from NIMBYs who use these laws to pursue their own legal vendettas.

  4. It hurts me deeply every time I see another chunk of Echo Park architectural history being sold to the highest bidder. Soul- less people that do not care to preserve the history of Echo Park…..all for gain and bringing more people in to an expanding roster of residents…all these people are forcing the people here for decades. out. Some have no option but to live in a homeless lifestyle. Some folks are broke broke displacement and find a life of criminal activity the only way to get ahead. Where does it stop? Let us just fix the homes we have and let us keep our Echo Park the close knit community it has been. Stop pimping EP out to the developers.

  5. Silverlake and Echo Park need an HPOZ zone to protect older building en masse instead of fighting it building by building.

  6. If a home like this isn’t worth saving, what is? Sadly, this city is filled with terrible architecture, strip malls, and theme park shopping centers. The bungalows of the early part of the 20th century are one of the bright spots of Los Angeles’s architectural history and they should be preserved.. Don’t be so quick to tear them down for a soulless structure developed by people who may not even live in the city. Sure, things change and populations grow, but unless we start taking an active role in how these changes take place, our neighborhoods will reflect the priorities of developers (maximizing profit) to that of the neighbors who have to live with what they’ve wrought.

    • @nidoog

      I completely agree.

      It’s a little saddening to think LA used to have many beautiful houses like the ones on Carroll Ave.

      San Fran is noted for it’s beautiful architecture while LA has strip malls and convenient parking.

  7. Everyone tut-tutting about how terrible it is that this house is being demolished will turn around and whine about how landlords are so terrible asking $2K for a 1 bedroom.

    The reason landlords can get those rents is that its impossible to build apartment buildings so they have no competition.

    If you want to fight every development, then fine. But every apartment building that doesn’t get built just fattens the pockets of landlords, so don’t whine about high rents.

    • Most of us own homes here. We’re not whining about rent. If someone wants to rent an apartment here, they pay the market price. But for people that have lived in these neighborhoods for 10 and 20 years, have invested their lives and lives saving, this is hard to just accept.

  8. Not only are many of these house historical, but there is a character, of Silver Lake, that is being destroyed by money hungry deconstructions and an overly ambitious local government that is destroying the integrity and in essence, people livelihoods with these monstrous, ugly, buildings that take the spot two or three homes once stood on.

    • Dave is right! The characteristics and historical charm that made NE popular in the last decade is now being systematically distroyed by ithis very same popularity. Why do people choose to live in these neighborhoods when they are apathetic or even pro development ? Is it because their friends told them it’s a cool neighborhood?
      NE Los Angeles was originally persevered through neglect, meaning that no one gave a shit about thais part of town , In turn saving it from development because there was no money to be made. As it lay slighty in ruin. Now that it’s deemed a destination , we should threat it as an archaeological find. Los Angles has a long history of distroying its own history which is then forgotten forever. Embrace the history that still existed and fight to keep it in tact. And if that doesn’t sell you , know that over development will decrease home $$value as it starts to effect the asthetics and quality of life…

  9. John Joseph Ramos

    I can move this home and have it restored. I have done this twice in the City of Los Angeles and both projects were successful. Please inform as to the principals involved so I can contact and research. Time is of the essence. Thanks.

  10. I hope at least they can salvage most of the historic doors, windows, frames etc. So may used in another house.

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